Kickoff season previews  


Lions have ability to surprise with talented offense

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Detroit Lions

2009 record: 2-14 (Last in NFC North)
Bucky Brooks
Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson lead offense that's surprisingly good. Wins are still seldom, but Lions headed in right direction.
Prediction:  6-10, last in NFC North
Vic Carucci
Although they did plenty to improve, they're still the Lions. And they're still not going to surpass Green Bay, Minnesota or Chicago.
Prediction:  4-12, last in NFC North
Pat Kirwan
Jim Schwartz is building properly, but it takes time. They are better but schedule is brutal. Three of first four are division road games.
Prediction:  4-12, last in NFC North
Jason La Canfora
Lions are headed in the right direction, but still a year away from a playoff push. Stafford can't get hit as much as last year.
Prediction:  6-10, last in NFC North
Michael Lombardi
The Lions are not the same; they look impressive this preseason. Stronger on defense, explosive on offense, Motor City football is back.
Prediction:  7-9, last in NFC North
Steve Wyche
This might turn out being a very dangerous team. There's a little too much youth in key spots but opponents will have to earn every yard.
Prediction:  6-10, last in NFC North
Lions' defensive ranking in 2009. Detroit used the second overall pick on DT Ndamukong Suh and added veteran DE Kyle Vanden Bosch in free agency to revamp the unit.
Gosder Cherilus
The 2008 first-round pick has been a disappointment in his first two seasons, but the Lions are counting on him to man the right side of the offensive line. If he is up to the task, Detroit has the potential to be one of the league's most explosive units. He has shown signs of turning the corner, but it remains to be seen how well he performs.
Kyle Vanden Bosch
The 12th-year pro was signed to provide veteran leadership and a presence off the edge. Though his skills have started to slip, his relentless motor and boundless energy should lead to a number of garbage sacks over the course of the season. With the Lions' secondary looking very vulnerable, coach Jim Schwartz must hope that Vanden Bosch can provide enough of a rush to prevent quarterbacks from attacking down the field.
Simply the Best?
Despite the return of Kevin Smith from knee surgery, the Lions will allow Jahvid Best every chance to be a featured back this season. He won't be the second coming off Barry Sanders, but the rookie has major playmaking ability and could emerge into a solid No. 2 fantasy back.
Three pivotal games
Sept. 12 at Chicago
The Lions open with three of four games against NFC North opponents, all of which are on the road. The Bears seem to present the best chance to come away with a victory considering the Vikings and Packers went to the playoffs a year ago. Also, with the number of new faces on both rosters still getting acclimated in Week 1, the Lions could find themselves on equal footing with the Bears.
Oct. 10 vs. St. Louis
The Rams' only victory last season came against the Lions. Even worse, it was in Detroit. Coach Jim Schwartz will make sure his team is ready to exact some revenge. The matchup could feature the last two No. 1 overall draft picks in quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Sam Bradford. It might also determine who has the top choice in 2011.
Nov. 25 vs. New England
While Thanksgiving football is a Detroit tradition, winning hasn't been part of the equation over the last decade. The Lions will get a chance to show they're on the right path when Tom Brady and the Patriots come to town. A victory over the perennial AFC powerhouse could do wonders for a young roster looking to build confidence.


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